International edition
September 18, 2020

Lawmakers try once again to approve real-money poker sites

California: New bill puts online poker back on the table

California: New bill puts online poker back on the table
Despite failed efforts over the past decade to legalize and regulate real-money online poker sites, the state of California will try again in 2017.
United States | 02/22/2017

Despite failed efforts over the past decade to legalize and regulate real-money online poker sites, the state of California will try again in 2017.

T

he Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act was introduced late last week by California Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer. The legislation appears to be identical to a previous internet poker proposal that was introduced last year.

Efforts last year hit the muck in August.

The legislation aims to build off of progress made in recent years to appease as many stakeholders as possible in the Golden State’s lucrative gambling industry. The state’s horse racing industry was satisfied by a provision calling for about $60 million in revenue sharing, but the Native American tribes with casinos have yet to come to a consensus on how the industry should be regulated.

Specifically, some tribes do not want a company like PokerStars in the market because they say it gained an unfair advantage thanks to doing business in the state prior to the authorization of online poker. PokerStars pulled out of the American market in 2011, but it has re-entered with a regulated platform in New Jersey. PokerStars has about 70 percent of the worldwide online poker market.

California tribal gaming generates nearly $8 billion a year in economic activity, making it the largest market of its kind in the country. More than 63,000 jobs are supported by tribal casinos in the state. There are about 60 tribal casinos statewide, and nearly 100 facilities altogether that offer poker.

Between 2009 and 2010, California players accounted for 16 percent of U.S. revenue and four percent of worldwide internet poker revenue. It was said at a past online poker hearing that roughly one million Californians still play online poker for real money.

California’s online poker market has been estimated at nearly $400 million.

This year’s legislation comes at an interesting time because California and the Trump administration have had some serious friction over the immigration issue, and there’s a chance the federal government could move to prohibit online casino gambling, which also raises states’ rights concerns. President Trump said recently: “California in many ways is out of control.”

California’s lack of results in the online poker realm haven’t stopped some from venturing into the space in some capacity. Late last year, California’s Pala Casino, Spa and Resort launched a free-play social poker product. The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel suffered a court defeat in December in its efforts to launch online bingo without state approval.

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